Jennifer Aniston’s Cake is a departure for the actress. Yosra Osman went to see if it was a successful one.
Picture by Freestyle Releasing
I like anything involving cake. Birthdays, bake sales, Patisserie Valerie, the Great British Bake Off… it’s all good. Call a film Cake and you’ll definitely see me in the audience.
I thought, OK, Cake must be a film about some happy-go-lucky woman who is questionably unlucky in love and needs to find ‘Mr Right’. Perhaps she has a fondness for baked goods. Maybe he owns a bakery. Somewhere a cake connection will be made and the two will have some quirky ups and downs over 90 minutes before reaching a nice happy ending.
The last thing I was expecting was Jennifer Aniston as a car accident survivor with chronic back pain.
Daniel Barnz’ film deals with slightly more grave subjects, including suicide, chronic pain and drug abuse. Jennifer Aniston plays Claire Bennett. When a member of her support group commits suicide, she takes an interest in her life and surviving family, while still grappling with her own problems.
Sounds horrible, but Cake isn’t too much of a soggy-bottomed affair and definitely isn’t heavy-handed enough to be a tear-jerker. In some ways it perhaps wasn’t quite emotional enough – certain plot strands were too underdeveloped and there wasn’t really enough substance for me to be emotionally invested.
The best thing about the film is Jennifer Aniston, who rises to the occasion, shaking off the rom-com overcoat and taking on this more dramatic role with ease. She’s really great in it and it’s not just the more bedraggled appearance and constant donning of grey jumpers that’s earned her a Golden Globe nomination. She is entirely believable as the strained Claire, poignant when necessary but also darkly humourous at times. There’s also the wonderful Adriana Barraza playing Claire’s resolutely loyal maid Sylvana, and a sadly underused Anna Kendrick, who only appears in fantastical sequences that don’t quite work with the film’s overall tone.
Cake isn’t a bad film by any means, but the narrative is a little half-baked for it to be worthy of absolute praise. It’s worth seeing for Aniston, who I can’t help but feel deserved a better film with her great performance.
Yosra Osman is a mid-twenties film fan and self-confessed daydreamer of dangerous proportions